On Saturday evening I had a chance to go to the ballet. It was a wonderful experience first because it gave me some very special time with my friend Linda but also because I have always loved the ballet but have had few chances to attend in the last 20 years. In fact I think that the last time I actually saw a live ballet was when I lived on board the Anastasis and we visited Poland.
There were 2 contemporary ballets. The first was great with lots of action and attention catching ballet and good music. The second left both Linda and I wondering why on earth we had come. even more puzzling to us at least was why on earth the rest of the audience seemed to be in raptures over the ballet. The music drove us crazy with its monotonous beat, and there seemed to be little connection between it and the dance that was going on, on the stage. At times it was as though a group of independent and autonomous dancers just happened to be sharing the same space. And there was obviously no overarching story to hold the whole performance together.
It seemed to me that this ballet was a great metaphor for modern life – chronic randomness with lots of independent dancers performing enthusiastically but with little sense of where they are heading or of the overarching story that is guiding their lives. Now as far as I am concerned it is OK if non believers want to run their lives like that but my concern is that I see the same randomness amongst followers of Jesus too. Many Christians I am acquainted with perform with enthusiasm but seem to have little sense of the wonderful story that is meant to hold our faith together. Even more concerning they often have few if any regular practices that connect them to that story and to the events of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. For some the thought of regular disciplines threatens their sense of freedom and autonomy.
As we approach Advent and the beginning of the Christian calendar year I would challenge you to take some time to think about the disciplines that shape your life. Make a list of both the secular and Christian practices you perform regularly throughout the day, week and year. List everything from Christian holy days & morning prayers to sporting events and sales at the mall. What patterns do you discern? Spend some time reflecting on how these shape the use of your time and resources. What changes would you like to make that can move you towards a life that is shaped more by the foundations of your faith than by the dictates of the consumer culture around us? If we don’t take control of our lives and move towards a faith that impacts everything we do the secular culture very quickly takes over and can easily swamp everything that we say we hold dear.